Residents come together to help during water crisis

ROSE HOOVER/THE EXPRESS Bald Eagle Area High School students were at the Snow Shoe EMS Building to help with the free bottled water distribution to the residents served by the Mountaintop Regional Water Authority. Through the efforts of Rep. Mike Hanna’s office, the water was donated by Nestle Waters.

SNOW SHOE — The Mountaintop Regional Water Authority (MRWA) held a meeting on Jan. 15 to listen to concerns from residents of Clarence, Moshannon, Pine Glen and Snow Shoe who have been under a boil water advisory for over a week.

Issues discussed included leaks and escalating water quality issues that have plagued the area for months.

By Wednesday morning, help was on the way.

According to Jim Yost, MRWA board member, the State College Borough Water Authority (SCBWA) volunteered to send workers for three days to help locate leaks, and then offered another day of assistance to help find more problems.

The SCBWA workers who are helping in this effort are Ken Onder and Derek Greenawalt, both residents of the Mountaintop area.

ROSE HOOVER/FOR THE EXPRESS Mountaintop Regional Water Authority Board of Directors member Jim Yost, left, thanks Rep. Mike Hanna for his efforts to help the Mountaintop community.

“The added manpower helps,” Yost said.

He said that last Tuesday alone, using the SCBWA equipment, three additional leaks were found in the system.

“And the funny thing about their equipment is that we have more up-to-date leak detection equipment,” Yost said. “We have electronic listeners, while they use essentially a stethoscope, which they plug in with tubes that go down to a magnet. And that’s been more effective than our extensive electronic equipment.”

According to Yost, the MRWA now has plans to purchase some leak detection equipment of that type.

“They don’t go bad. They don’t need batteries. I was amazed,” Yost said.

Other community and area agencies are working, in different ways, to help with the water problem.

State Rep. Mike Hanna’s office worked to help the Mountaintop community by coordinating efforts with Nestle Waters, which donated 1,600 cases of free bottled water.

Hanna was on hand to talk to residents serviced by the MRWA at the water distribution, which was held at the Snow Show EMS Building on Friday.

Snow Shoe EMS volunteers helped manage and coordinate the distribution.

The Bald Eagle Area School District also helped.

Over 30 BEA students, from grades 8 to 12, were on hand by 8:30 a.m. to help unload the skids filled with cases of water, and then transport the cases to the inside of the building.

When the distribution actually began at 10 a.m., the students helped carry the cases of water to residents’ vehicles.

There was a two-case limit per family.

Lunch for the volunteers at the EMS Building was donated by Hall’s Market, Subway, Troy’s Sub Shop, Newman’s Sandwich Shop, Bellefonte Pizza Mia, and Brothers Pizza in Snow Shoe.

Another community organization, the Clarence Moose Lodge 1565, was also helping with the effort.

While the bottled water was being distributed to residents on Friday, members of the Clarence Moose were cooking and serving a free lunch to all the personnel who have been working, in this freezing cold weather, to help fix the water system problems.

In addition, the Moose has ordered 504 cases of water to donate to the Mountaintop community. Pickup will be at the Clarence Moose and area residents will be notified when the cases of water arrive.

Yost says that since Monday’s MRWA meeting, residents have been conserving water.

He said they’ve been very helpful and calling when they suspected leaks – which didn’t happen before.

When suspected leaks were investigated, some turned out just to be just surface water, but some of them have been actual leaks.

“I know it’s frustrating – it’s frustrating for all of us,” Yost said.

“But residents have been just so supportive and so helpful. The support of the Mountaintop has been outstanding.”